Regional Primary Health Care Organisations


Regional Primary Health Care Organisations: population health planning, participation, equity and the extent to which initiatives are comprehensive

In 2013 the Southgate Institute was successful in atttracting over $1 million from the NH&MRC project grant scheme to study regional primary health care organisatoins across Australia. The project aims to examine regional population health planning processes for primary health care and the extent to which they incorporate equity, community participation and social determinants of health in their plans and programs, with a special emphasis on three disadvantaged groups: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, newly arrived migrants/refugees, and people with a mental illness.  The project will also examine partnerships with other organisations, patterns of interactions and power relationships, and the key driving forces in population health planning and decision making.

Research Plan

Given the government announcement that Medicare Locals will be replaced by new primary health organisations after July 2015, the research team reviewed and amended the research plan.

The project involves two stages: Stage 1 (until July 2015) intends to provide a whole picture of Medicare Locals across Australia in terms of policy, strategies and activities, and the extent to what they have incorporated the attributes of CPHC in govenance, health planning, decision making and priority setting. It also examines partnerships with local PHC stakeholders in providing comprehensive care.  Once the new PHC Networks are established after July 2015, Stage 2 of the project will monitor population health planning processes and the impact of policy changes on PHC collaboration and planning to address the health needs of local communities.

A mixture of qualitative and quantitative methods will be used. These include policy and planning review, survey and interviews with primary health care staff, and interviews and focus groups with key stakeholders.  The study is designed to provide opportunities for knowledge transfer and capacity building in Australian regional PHC organisations concerning the incorporation of CPHC attributes in planning, implementation and evaluation.

Primary Health Care Symposia 

The Southgate Institute organised a series of policy events to present research findings on primary health care, including from this project, to stimulate discussion on promoting a comprehensive PHC approach in Australia, and to revive the comprehensive vision of primary health care (PHC) set out in the World Health Organization’s Alma-Ata Declaration.

Videos from the Canberra symposium are available here.

Chief Investigators

Professor Fran Baum

Director, Southgate Institute for Health, Society and Equity, Flinders University

 Dr Sara Javanparast

Senior Research Fellow, Southgate Institute for Health, Society and Equity, Flinders University

 Professor Jeff Fuller

Professor of Nursing, Flinders University


Dr Angela Lawless

Senior Research Fellow, Southgate Institute for Health, Society and Equity, Flinders University

 Professor Richard Reed

Head of Department, General Practice, Flinders University

 Associate Professor Anna Ziersch

Australian Research Council Future Fellow, Flinders University

 Dr Toby Freeman

Senior Research Fellow, Southgate Institute for Health, Society and Equity, Flinders University

 Dr Tamara Mackean

Chair, Royal Australina Cpollege of Physicians Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Advisory Committee, Member of the NH&MRC Principal Committee on Health Care, Past President, Australian Indigenous Doctors Association


Associate Investigators

Professor Malcolm Battersby

Professor of Psychiatry and Director, Flinders Human Behaviour and Health Research Unit and Flinders Centre for Gambling Research

Mr Jeff Cheverton

Deputy Chief Executive Officer, Metro North Brisbane Medicare Local

Associate Professor Wendy Edmondson

Deputy Director, Poche Centre for Indigenous Health and Wellbeing

Professor Helen Keleher

Director of Population Health Planning and Stakeholder Relations, Frankston-Mornington Peninsular Medicare Local, Board Member of South-Eastern Melbourne Medicare Local, and Professor (Adjunct), Monash Unversity School of Public Health and Preventive Medicine

Professor Michael Kidd AM

Executive Dean, Faculty of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences, Flinders University, Chair of the South Australian Health and Medical Research Advisory Council, President of the World Organization of Family Doctors (WONCA)

Professor Ron Labonte

Canada Research Chair in Globalization & Health Equity at the Institute of Population Health, Professor at the Department of Epidemiology & Community Medicine, Univesity of Ottawa

Dr Lareen Newman

Senior Research Fellow, Southgate Institute for Health, Society and Equity, Flinders Univesity

Professor David Sanders

Emeritus Professor and Founding Director of the School of Public Health, University of the Western Cape

Dr Ian White

Principal Policy Advisor, Population Health and Planning, Australian Medicare Local Alliance, (AMLA)

Key Project Staff

Professor Fran Baum AO

Tel: (08) 7221 8410




Dr Sara Javanparast

Tel: (08) 7221 8414




Dr Toby Freeman

Tel: (08) 7221 8468





Dr Angela Lawless

Tel: (08) 7221 8474




Reports and Publications


Please click Stakeholders Consultation Report - Mental Health (PDF 75KB) Report


 Please click Stakeholders Consultation Report - Migrant Health (PDF 100KB) Report


Please click Stakeholders Consultation Report - Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health (PDF 76KB) Report


Academic Papers

Javanparast S., Baum F., Freeman T., Labonte R., Ziersch A., Kidd M.,
Mackean T.,  Efficiency, effectiveness and equity: Lessons from Medicare
Locals for Primary Health Networks, Medical Journal of Australia (2015) 203
(5): 219.


Henderson J., Javanparast S., Mackean T., Freeman T., Baum F., Ziersch
A., Commissioning and equity in primary care in Australia: views from Primary
Health Networks, Health & Social Care in the Community (2018) 26 (1):


Freeman T., Javanparast S., Baum F., Ziersch A., Mackean T., A Framework
for Regional Primary Health Care Organisations Actions on Health Inequities: An
examination of Australian Medicare Locals' equity performance, International
Journal of Public Health, (2018) 63 (5): 567- 571


Javanparast S., Freeman T., Baum F., Labonté R., Ziersch A., Mackean
T.,  Reed R., Sanders D., How institutional forces, ideas and actors
shaped population health planning in Australian regional primary health care
organisations, BMC Public Health


Javanparast S., Baum F., Freeman T., Ziersch A., Henderson J., Mackean
T.,  Collaborative population health planning between Primary Health Care
Organisations and Local Government: Lost opportunity, Australian and New
Zealand Journal of Public Health

Participant Information Sheet (DOC 246KB)